A gunman walked into a classroom where his mother was a teacher at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Friday. He shot and killed her and then shot 18 students in the classroom. He also shot five other adults, and then killed himself inside the school. One person was also injured in the shooting. Another body related to the shooting was at another scene, the authorities said, declining to provide more specifics.
A law enforcement official identified the shooter as Adam Lanza, believed to be in his 20s, and said that a brother, Ryan Lanza, had been questioned.
The shooting of 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of 5 and 10 ranks among the worst in recent US history.
‘'The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,’’ a visibly distraught President Barack Obama said during a nationally televised address.
After pausing to compose himself for perhaps five long seconds, Obama said, ‘‘They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.’’
Some witnesses described a harrowing scene inside the school with the sounds of gunfire followed by sounds of screams as terrified students and staff members hid in classrooms, closets or wherever they could quickly take shelter.
A 9-year-old boy who is a student at the school said he was in the gym when the shooting erupted.
''We were in the gym, and I heard really loud bangs,’’ said the boy, as he stood shivering and weeping outside the school with his father’s arm draped around him. ‘‘We thought that someone was knocking something over. And we heard yelling and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots. We heard someone say, ‘Put your hands up.’ I heard, ‘Don’t shoot.’ We had to go into the closet in the gym. Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door, there were lots of people crying and screaming.’’
Eighteen of the students were pronounced dead at the school, and two others were taken to hospitals where they were declared dead. All of the adults shot at the school were pronounced dead at the scene.
As news of the shooting spread, frantic family members descended on the scene and were taken to a nearby fire station where teachers and students who had been evacuated from the school had been taken by the authorities. Some clergy members were also at the station.
''The teachers wrote down the names of all the children,’’ said Monsignor Robert Weiss, the pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown. ‘‘The ones who were unaccounted for, those parents went to another room and wrote their names on a list.’’
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was at the scene of the shooting comforting relatives of victims, called the killings a ‘‘tragedy of unspeakable terms.’’